Financial Daily from THE HINDU group of publications
Wednesday, Mar 12, 2003
Net dial-up users may shift to broadband
Raja Simhan T.E.
CHENNAI, March 11
DIAL-UP Internet subscribers are likely to find alternative modes of accessing the Net including cybercafes from April 1 more attractive, if the Telecom Regulatory Authority of India (TRAI) proposal to slash basic phones rates from 180 seconds to 120 seconds goes through.
Sources in the industry said that the TRAI proposal would increase `significantly' the Internet dial-up charges for subscribers. Other than the residential segment, the so-ho (small office-home office) and small and medium enterprise are major users of dial-up services. As at December 2002, there were about 3.9 million Internet subscribers, including dial-up.
Mr R. Ramaraj, President, Internet Service Providers of India, and Managing Director, Sify Ltd, recently told Business Line that following the TRAI direction the cost of Internet access through PSTN dial-up would go up to Rs 44 per hour from around Rs 32. This means a 35 per cent increase in the cost of Internet access, in addition to the ISP (Internet service providers) charges of about Rs 10, he said.
While the new rules would mean few takers for dial-up Internet services in future, there could be increased demand for alternative modes of accessing Internet. This includes cybercafes, which would be much cheaper than dial-up. An hour's charge at a cybercafe would be about Rs 25, compared to almost double the charges in dial-up, Mr Ramaraj said.
According to him, broadband Internet access would be another alternative for dial-up subscribers. Broadband offers consumers 24 hours and unlimited access to Internet.
At a cost of about Rs 1,500 per month (excluding initial installation charges), coupled with high-speed connectivity, broadband would be far cheaper than the dial-up. Sify has offered its broadband services in a number of buildings and flats in Mumbai and Chennai, he said.
Mr Saurabh Goel, National Manager, DirecWay Consumer, Hughes Escorts Communications Ltd, expects a gradual shift in dial-up Internet access to broadband access in the months to come.
One of the reasons for the shift could be the high cost of dial-up access from April 1, he added.
The company hopes that the small and medium enterprises, which constitute a major portion of the dial-up Internet access, would shift gradually to broadband.
The company is targeting its DirecWay satellite-based broadband services towards the SME market across India, and hopes to generate revenues of Rs 40 crore by 2005 from the sector, he said.
According to Mr Goel, the company in January announced that it would appoint 50 State-level channel partners across India to deliver "reliable, secure broadband connectivity and value-added solutions for the identified segment.
The company has invested over $15 million in introducing DirecWay in India", he added.
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